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Opera and Drama

While Harmony Club in its early years focused mostly on classical music, opera was given little attention, only about 20 programs over the years.  That’s only 2 or 3 per decade.  Yet, when either grand or light opera was performed, there was a variety of performances, not just vocals and piano, but string duets, trios, and 4tets, 4-handed piano, flute duets, even a French horn solo.  Some of the opera programs included period costumes.  Three of the more creative programs, “Mme Butterfly” in 1953, “South Pacific” in 1956, and “Hansel und Gretel” in 1963, featured the marionettes of member Mildred Foster Kelly. 

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Binghamton Press photo

In Jan 1984 Duane Skrabalak of Tri-Cities Opera gave a guest presentation called “Behind the Scenes.”  Dori mentioned in October that fully 2 years before Peyton Hibbit and Carmen Savoca founded Tri-Cities Opera, HC Founder Hannah Thomas had sat on a committee exploring the possibility of bringing civic opera to Binghamton. 

Opera is all about drama, and a number of our Harmony Club founders were interested in drama as well as music.  Six of them, in fact, were members of the Shakespeare Dramatic Club of Binghamton.  Four of them were charter members of that club as well.  There was Hannah Thomas of course.  Jane McClatchey organized the Shakespeare Club in 1915 and was its first president.  And Alice Wales was its last surviving charter member.  Frances Alexander was the fourth charter member of both clubs.  Lillian Benedict joined the Shakespeare Club during its first year, and Edith Pierce was elected in 1923   For more information on these ladies, click on their names.

Harmony Club’s 2001-2002 season was titled “Shakespeare without Tears,” a whole year of programs whose music was inspired by monthly themes taken from titles of Shakespearean plays:  Dec was “A Winter’s Tale,” Jan was “Twelfth Night,” Feb was “Romeo & Juliet,” Mar was “The Tempest,” and so on to the June program:  “All’s Well That Ends Well.”

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